Burgundy Trip July 2009

I have been sifting through my notes from visiting 27 makers in Burgundy during July. Here are some brief thoughts.

I tasted over 400 wines, mostly 2007. There were many, many superb wines.

The 2007 whites are brilliant for their vitality and minerality and purity. I think at the moment the lower level wines are quite delicious and racy but will benefit from several years to build more weight. There is no question that the top wines require three plus years to flesh out and build around their very intense, oh so pure spine. What really struck me when comparing 2007 to 2006 and 2005 was just how specific to site they are and how rich and ready the other vintages looked. I guess 2007 could be labelled a purists vintage for whites.

The 2007 reds are so delicious, complex, balanced and harmonious. They (generalisation here) will all drink and live well for a decade and more. There is so much to like about 2007! The level of Pinot fruit purity is sensational (to my mind think 2006 and 2002). There is a lot of fresh, fragrant red berry fruit, often quite a deal of spice and lovely creaminess in 2007. In more profound vineyards there is, as expected, often an added edge of darker, deeper fruit expression.

The 2008s look deeper, richer and more structured in both whites and reds but the malos are slow and many wines are not resolved yet. I tasted some amazingly textured and deep whites with bracing acid. There is a lot of power and texture. Some producers were thrilled by the combination or fruit depth, acid and mouthfeel. Hedonists wines in many ways. But it is early days.

The 2008 reds are often very deep and powerful though the malos were normally not done and they started with high malic so they will become a bit more tame. I felt 2007 offered more purity and fragrance where as 2008 seemed darker and denser. We really must be careful not to judge too early so what are impressions of wines in barrel or just bottled should be seen in a general sense.

What came across strongly was that the attention to detail in the vineyard and the care being applied in the winery can provide an excellent opportunity to make stunning wines even when the vintage conditions are not perfect. It seems in Burgundy that imperfect weather during the growing season can be rendered unimportant if there are well timed periods of fine, dry, sunny weather post veraison. Both 2007 and 2008 are such instances. An interesting observation was made that the expression of terroir can be heightened in difficult (but not flawed) seasons where as perfect sunny seasons can stamp the wines with vintage, not the vineyard.